(COLORADO) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife warns hunters of the risks posed by the avian flu this hunting season, moving into the holidays.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been spreading throughout the eastern United States and has made its way into Colorado’s domestic and wild bird populations. Of the tracked cases, most were wild birds over the past two months.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture Avian flu tips
The Colorado Department of Agriculture offers tips to hunters on how to prevent avian flu.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has tips for hunters who want to avoid potential exposure to HPAI and possible spread:

  • Do not handle or eat sick game.
  • Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game.
  • When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant, and clean knives, equipment, and surfaces that come in contact with game.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.
  • All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before being consumed.

According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, “In rare cases, avian influenza can pass to humans, especially those exposed to sick birds. Hunters are advised to monitor their health for any signs of flu-like symptoms within a week of handling birds. Anyone who feels ill, should visit their health care provider.”